Friday, October 20, 2006

Horrifying

As regular readers of this blog know, I have had nothing but good things to say about Duke students, who—to a far greater extent than the faculty who teach them—quickly recognized the issues at play in this case. But I couldn’t bypass an astonishing column by senior James Zou published in today’s Chronicle. Writing, he asserted, as a believer in “due political and judicial process,” he urged Duke students registered to vote in Durham not to go to the polls in the November election.

On March 31, Mike Nifong set up a system treating Duke students according to different procedures than those applied to every other resident of Durham. On September 12, Capt. Ed Sarvis announced that the Durham Police Department has an official policy of treating Duke students as a class, and meting out to them disproportionate punishment.

Many people—perhaps, even, Zou, who tepidly concedes that Nifong isn’t “the ideal district attorney to serve the Durham community”—would consider both of these actions extraordinary violations of basic principles of judicial due process. Imitating tactics most associated with the civil rights movement, Duke Students for an Ethical Durham encouraged those affected by violations of due process—Duke students—to register to vote. In this respect, DSED members advocated working within the system to achieve change—or what Zou might call “due political process.” But Zou chastises them for doing so, and argues that DSED members instead should have focused on ensuring “that all University employees are making a living wage or helping the growing Hispanic community to integrate into Durham.”

Such rhetoric, no doubt, warms the hearts of the Group of 88. And, I suppose, such rhetoric is also an outgrowth of an institution whose leadership to date has looked the other way at the suppression of the DSED registration drive outside the Duke stadium during the Duke-UVA football game.

For those, however, who believe in “due political and judicial process,” Zou’s column ranks with the remarks of NCCU student Chan Hall (who wanted to see the Duke students prosecuted “whether it happened or not,” since “it would be justice for things that happened in the past”) as the most contemptible statement by a college student in this affair. Zou’s proposal deserves the strongest possible condemnation.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

James Zou appears to be a casualty of education by the likes of the Group of 88. Perhaps it would make him feel better to have his picture duplicated 46 times and put on a "wanted" poster and paraded across campus. Then Zou might understand how important voting rights really are. He is an embarrassment to the Chronicle.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Zou’s best line is, “I do not believe that he (Nifong) has handled the lacrosse case with competence.” Any fair-minded individual could see that this case has been handled with gross negligence and perhaps even malice.

Furthermore, Zou purports to believe in the “due political and judicial process” both which have been completely absent for the accused involved in this case. The irony bemuses me.

One can only wonder whether or not Ralph (I am a firebrand Liberal) Luker has changed his mind on this case. Well Mr. Luker what is your “informed” opinion on this case as of now?

Still slinging dung at the culture warriors?

RM PAM.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college, I did and said stupid things. However, I was never unpatriotic. I am proud that I voted in every election since I turned 18. My parents voted in every election and I hope I pass this value to my children.
Some expect perfect candidates, clear choices, no thinking required. These are probably the same people who don't go to church because it's full of sinners.
Ruth Sheehan wrote, "No doubt all of us have had moments of holding our nose while voting for a candidate, or boycotting a particular race on principle." A dynamic democracy involves a lot of difficult choices.
Voting for Cheek, a candidate who will not assume office, is unusual. It will require Durham citizens to involve themselves in the process Easley uses to name a new DA. The wonder of our country is that they can become a part of that process. Every article I've read neglects to mention that they can have a role in this process and certainly voice their opinion. It is nothing to fear. It is democracy at work.

Anonymous said...

KC: When are people en masse going to start making some serious waves with respect to Nifongs frail accusations? It’s crystal clear that Mike Nifong is waging ‘lawfare” for his own vainglorious reasons.

What repercussions, if any, is he likely to face?

Anonymous said...

I think that given the state of politics today, a lot of people would really enjoy the option of "none of the above", as neatly packaged in a vote for Cheek.

Anonymous said...

How can someone claim to believe in political process and urge people not to vote at the same time?

Anonymous said...

Dr. J: Your article “Behind the Elimination of NCATE's "Dispositions" is stellar and just another reminder of your journalistic efficacy. You know, you really should run for mayor! Wink. FYI, I am considering a comeback for Spring 07.


Sincerely,

Mapp v. Ohio

Michael said...

I tried to post a response on the Chronicle web page, wherein I labeled his assertions ridiculous, but apparently they weren't accepted...

Anonymous said...

Zou is a very confused individual! He says that it is not right to vote against an individual out of spite or personal grudge. OK...what about incompetence? Is it OK to vote against someone who you believe is abusing their power? What's wrong with someone from NE giving money to a campaign? Have you heard of PACs and 527s? What do you think their purpose is?
He states that "The judicial process should be allowed to run its course and through its own mechanisms exonerate the innocent while punishing the guilty." Spoken like a true coward! It's not his neck on the line. Why should he care? I feel sorry for him when he leaves his cocoon of relativity on campus and ventures into the real world. There is injustice everywhere but you have to be willing to take a stand in order to fight it.

Anonymous said...

My biggest problem with this article is why did the Chronicle select to publish it? Is this what we should expect from them until the election day? Did someone get them enlisted to fight for Nifong? This is obsurd.

Anonymous said...

Glad others were horrified by this article. When my daughter phoned today, I asked her if she had read the piece. She was furious about it (as well as the op/ed about Duke athletes). She added that her friend had just shown her an article in the latest Cosmopolitan magazine titled "The Scary Truth About Guys in Groups".
The headline reads "Otherwise decent men can morph into monsters when spurred on by a testosterone-fueled peer group. Learn what drives this dangerous pack behavior and how you can avoid falling victim to it." There is a picture of David Evans with a big headline "Third Player Indicted in Duke Rape Case." The first three paragraphs of the story are exclusively devoted to the Duke case. Only two sentences express any doubts about the case. It then goes on to mention the Fresno case, as well as one in New York. (I picked up the issue on my way home.) The rest of the article is about "psychology of the pack", "pack and prey", "the boys club culture", and "twisted group dynamics". Hard to believe with so much evidence to dispute this hoax, the Duke lax team is Cosmo's top choice as having a gang rape mentality.

Cliff said...

James Zou's column in today's Chronicle makes an oblique reference to my guest column in the same paper yesterday entitled "Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our True Victory Lie?".

The following is my response:

Interesting piece. However, your oblique reference to my guest column yesterday takes one of its subsidiary points and attempts to make that point my central thesis, which it surely is not.

You state, in effect, "The political process should [most certainly not] be based...on finessing the probability over the dismissal of a specific case". The probability that my column is principally concerned with is that of a "full, fair, and dispassionate review" of the "Duke Lacrosse Rape Case," a case in which fairness has been fundamentally absent to date. Fairness is absolutely central to legitimate political process and is surely a proper object of concern when it is subverted in that process or, for that matter, anywhere else.

The basic point of my column was that for those of us genuinely concerned with fairness, as I would argue we all must be, our only real hope of seeing our concerns made real in this “specific case” is to support a candidate, Steve Monks, who, uniquely among the three candidates running for Durham District Attorney, has no personal or political conflict with seeing that fairness is done.

That the probability of a dismissal in this case would increase significantly with a Monks victory is simply an inescapable consequence, however desirable it may be, of real fairness, without the taint of competing agendas, being applied to this case for the very first time.

Anonymous said...

If he is "a casualty of education by the likes of the Group of 88", as Anon 5:43 said, their seedlings will not be of much concern in any elections.

Anonymous said...

A common thread in this article by Mr. Zou and the amazing fact that Duke administrators tried to keep LAX players from seeking the protection of council seems to be that many folks at Duke, like a lot of elite, enclosed academic communities, have lost a sense of reality outside of the asylum. These people seem to have no idea what a conviction for 1st degree rape entails. Having a ruthless thug as their local DA seems somehow to leave them feeling un-threatened. Little things like due process and DAs having to follow the rules do not seem like big deals to these folks beside their vague, feel-good notions like mandating greater diversity.
Perhaps these pampered academicians just assume, without even consciously considering it, that the government and police will always be on their side.

Anonymous said...

8:47 I am surprised that you elected to post here. Don't you realize most of us on this board are trying as hard as we can to get Monks to drop out of the DA race? This is a race Monks cannot possibly win. He can only be a “spoiler,” at best.

Oh yes, we understand how concerned he is about the welfare of these kids, or the welfare of Durham for that matter! Monks is just a cheap opportunist, that's all. You are preaching to the wrong crowd here. Maybe you can fool the young and inexperienced Duke students, but not us. We know better than that. What exactly do you take us for?

Anonymous said...

Is there something in the water in Durham? Is this guy Zou just plain stupid or what? Did he actually read what he wrotee?

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson, you continue to criticize the Duke Administration for supposedly suppressing the voter registration activities of DSED by not allowing them to set up their table at the football game even though you know that they were allowed to conduct voter registration activities on campus for several weeks, including a big event on West Campus last week, and even though you know that the leaders of DSED have stated publicly how pleased they are with the results of their voter registration efforts. To me, this shows that you are not engaged in serious objective analysis of the lacrosse case but are instead just trying to take every cheap shot you can against the Duke Administration in order to assist the lacrosse parents with their vendetta against Brodhead. I know that your friend, Walter Abbott, fired off a couple of letters to the Department of Justice urging them to investigate Duke for its outrageous violation of the civil rights laws. Has Abbott received any response from the DOJ other than the telephone conversation in which they basically told him to get lost?

Anonymous said...

To 1:45am
You sound about as smart as Zou. Are you proud of the Duke administration. I live in the midwest and travel all over our country and I am very embarrased for the Duke admin. They are a joke. As for Zou, I only blame the Chronicle. The guy just doesn't get it. He doesn't understand the American justice system or he wouldn't say such things.

Anonymous said...

To 1:45 AM: Was there a good reason for Duke University not to allow DSED to have a voter registration table at a football game? I'm sure that it would have been possible to find room for them. Even if it wasn't a violation of law to deny DSED the ability to conduct voter registration there, it doesn't seem like a great idea to deny it either.

Anonymous said...

8:47 - Monks has NO chance of winning--he's only going to split the ABN vote. If he continues to run in this election, you can guaratee that this will be the end of his political "career."

A vote for Monks is a vote for the Fong--THINK ABOUT IT!!!

Anonymous said...

People have struggled for too long to give different groups (such as women, for instance) a right to vote for this guy to tell students not to vote.
For this guy to urge students not to vote is totally ridiculous. Does he not understand voting is participating in the political process? What is Duke teaching their students if this guy can’t comprehend that?

roy in nipomo said...

I admit that when I was a college student, many decades ago, I tended to not vote on local issues (particularly property tax issues) as I viewed myself as a temporary resident of the area and would not have to suffer the consequences of a bad decision (e.g. very high taxes on one hand or poopie schools on the other - I had no children at the time).

That said, I still registered and voted on those local issues that directly affected me and, of course, on state and national issues.

I would think that the D.A.'s election would count as something that counts as something that directly affects the students.

KC Johnson said...

To the 1.45:

The fact that DSED was pleased with its impressive voter registration drive, or that it conducted registration drives elsewhere on the Duke campus that were not suppressed, in no way excuses Duke's decision to prevent the students from registering voters outside the stadium in the Duke-UVA game.

According to the initial response I received from John Burness on this issue (which I posted in its entirety), it was official Duke policy not to be concerned with events outside the stadium. Therefore, the suppression violated Duke policy.

NDLax84 said...

Hasn't Monks announced his withdrawal yet?

Anonymous said...

Professor Johnson, thank you for your response to my post. The problem is that you continually refer to this as Duke suppressing the right of the students to vote or the right of DSED to register students to vote, which is obviously intended to suggest to the reader that Duke made an official decision at some high level to suppress the DSED voter registration efforts, which is clearly not true. Do you have any evidence that would demonstrate that the decision not to allow DSED to set up its table at the football game was a deliberate decision made by high level officials at Duke for the purpose of suppressing voter registration efforts as opposed to just some screw up in which a guard at the gate or some other low level official misapplied university policy? If not, then your repeated statements that Duke was suppressing the right to vote are just false and represent one more example of your never ending effots to push forward the LAX team parent agenda of demonizing the Brodhead and the Duke Administration, even if that may require you to distort the facts from time to time.

EC said...

To Anonymous 3:02 pm,

Please provide your evidence that it was some unfortunate miscommunication or simple error or a rogue Duke employee that prevented the DSED from opening a table outside the stadium to register voters during the Duke UVA game. I'm sure you MUST have this evidence readily on hand, otherwise your incessant shrill of defending Brodhead and maligning KC would appear to be...ohh...shall we say...agenda driven. No?

The second point I would like to make is that Brodhead has a tremendous amount to answer for and whether this voter registration fiasco was his doing or not is completely immaterial. Completely. It is simply a desperate act of diversion and obfuscation. Kindly stick to the issue at hand.

Anonymous said...

To 3:02pm I do know for a fact that it was a higher up person at Duke that did not allow the registration to take place. My daughter started the Duke Students for an Ethical Durham group and has led the voter registration drive. I can tell you with 100% certainty that it was not a random guard gate making such an absurd decision. Some low level official that you have described might just have more backbone than any official in the Duke administration. You were not there and obviously don't really know what happened. Yes, my daughter was there and you are just plain WRONG!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the DSED were not only denied a table, they were stopped from walking around outside the stadium in 'voice your choice' tshirts handing out ballots. And, at the very same time a republican write-in candidate and his campaign manager were IN the stadium campaigning.

Anonymous said...

5:56 PM, which high up official made the decision and what reason was given for the decision?

Anonymous said...

Brandt... You know full well that a vote for Monks is a vote for Nifungus. You pretend to be concerned with the fate of the innocent three but work covertly to ensure that Nifong retains his office and continues his persecution. You've got some nerve soiling this fine blog with your words disguised as a solution but in reality designed to further the persecution. Do you have no conscience? Sell stupid somewhere else. You won't find any takers here.

Anonymous said...

To Cliff Brandt: No one is buying your deceit. Check this out-

http://liestoppers.blogspot.com/2006/10/obfuscation.html

Anonymous said...

5:56 PM, you claim to be the parent of the student who started DSED and you also claim to know for a fact that the decision not to allow DSED to set up its voter registration table at the football game was made at the highest levels of the Duke Administration. Yet, when someone asks the simple question which high up official made the decision and what reason was given for the decision, you do not respond. This causes me to wonder whether you really are who you say you are or whether you are just a fan who is trying to help KC get out of a tight spot.

Cliff said...

2:32 PM

Allow me to respond to your drivel first with a quote from Mark Twain:

Nothing is quite so disturbing to those unaccustomed to it as careful, critical thought.

Yes, I do have a conscience and a rather powerful one at that, which has motivated me to speak out forcefully against the absolutely absurd bill of goods that you and other thoughtless souls have bought into here—that a Mike Easley appointment is likely to make any real difference in the disposition of this case (for those not already aware of it, the argument in support of this proposition is available at “Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie?”). And, just for the record, I’ve got nothing against Mike Easley per se; I voted for him for Governor and would likely vote for him again should he run for some office in the future.

Even one of the principals of the Duke Students for an Ethical Durham, a group whose leaders advocate the election of Lewis Cheek—which, of course, leads to an Easley appointment—conceded to me and some friends the other night that it was his/her assumption that if Lewis Cheek wins, the case will go to trial (I’m not specifying this person’s gender in the interest of maintaining this person’s anonymity, which, under the circumstances, I think he/she would appreciate).

If you all want to play Russian Roulette with the lives of the accused in this case, you go right ahead, but I’m going to do everything I can to stop it. As to selling stupidity, you can be sure that we’re not. And why would we bother; people like you have been rushing out to buy it day after day.

The good news here in Durham is that thoughtful people—which thankfully we have in abundance—are waking up rapidly to the very real problem that Cheek’s candidacy represents in this case.

Anonymous said...

A real problem Cheek's candidacy presents in this case? No, the problem comes with Monks' candidacy.
Mr. Cheek has a much better chance of beating Nifong that Mr. Monks.
I doubt very much Mr. Monks would have a chance to beat Nifong even if Cheek was not around. Mr. Monks is not on the ballot. As Mr. Monks has basically no chance to win this election, Mr. Monks will not get a chance to drop the case either.
By actively campaigning against Mr. Cheek, Mr. Monks is diminishing a chance that Mr. Cheek wins the election. Now, who is playing with the lives of the accused?

Anonymous said...

Cliff-

Are you saying that the case won't go to trial if Monks is elected? Has Monks already made up his mind about this case without looking at the evidence? RNVC is not all about the Duke LAX case, it's about what the Durham citizens deserve in a DA... someone who would not rush to judgment before they know all the facts of a case.

Referring to your editorial - are you suggesting that Easley might ask his potential appointees if they would dismiss the LAX case and throw out anyone, although fully qualified, that responded with "...after a fair assessment of the facts in the case, if I determined that the evidence does not support probable cause, I would dismiss the case."

Perhaps I misunderstand your position....

Cliff said...

2:39 PM

Gosh, and I thought someone clever enough to start a blog and call it Liestoppers, when—for all the distortions of the truth it contains among some occasionally decent analysis—it could just as well be called Liestarters, would be bright enough to deduce just from the headline of my editorial alone, "Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie", that it concerns itself with how best to defeat Nifong. Apparently not though, although all but a few got it right away.

And who were those few? Why the Cheek mouthpiece brigade, of course. And, yes, brigade members, anyone actually paying attention really can see right through your once ever so clever disguises, now worn through to the point of transparency by the tides of careful reasoning and thoughtful analysis (ah, what pesky forces these are!).

Now, if the Liestopper/starter folks want to delude themselves into thinking that at this point they’re actually going to convince folks supporting Nifong not to, then let ‘em have at it.

As to the Monks’ campaign, we’re astute enough to realize that trying to convince folks so impervious to reality that they’re still supporting Nifong to wake up to reality and support someone else is an utterly lost cause. Unless, of course, one’s got nothing better to do, as may be the case for the Cheek supporters, who don’t really want to go beyond the fact that Cheek’s not Nifong (neither is Monks, by the way, for those who may be having trouble grasping that simple fact) and look at what a Cheek victory really means.

Now admittedly that issue is a tad more complex than who’s not Nifong, but the vast majority of folks in Durham County are smart enough to figure it out. Wish I could same for some of the bloggers (no offense intended to KC, who I do respect) and their ardent, if utterly thoughtless, supporters, a group whose ranks are thankfully diminishing with every passing day.

The question my editorial addresses is who is the best candidate to replace Nifong when he's defeated, which is the part of the solution to the Nifong fiasco that the folks at "Anybody But Nifong" (Anybody???) and their ilk have overlooked entirely, much to the astonishment of thinking folks everywhere. And there are now only two possible answers to this, the key question, for everyone opposed to Nifong: 1) the party least likely to restore true fairness to the defendants in this case, an Easley appointee courtesy of Lewis “Don’t Want the Office, But Vote for Me Anyway” Cheek, or 2) the party most likely to restore true fairness to the defendants in this case, Steve Monks.

This ain’t rocket science, I promise. Although I suppose to folks who think that the truth is deceit (2:39 PM among them), it may be just too much to manage. But, hey, that’s OK, there’s a place in this world for folks like you too and Lewis wants your vote.

As to the general nonsense and distortion that are posted on Liestopper/starters as an “analysis” of my piece (if they can’t figure out what the headline means, what can you really expect when they get to the “hard” part???), there are, I suppose, a few points that aren’t utterly dishonest or totally absurd, so, if I get some free time, maybe I’ll respond to them for the very few folks who can’t figure out just how entirely invalid they are. Stay tuned, but don't hold your breath…

Anonymous said...

So, Cliff.
Are you saying that your strategy is to take away voters from those who decided to vote for Lewis Cheek? Because people who decided to vote for Nifong already made up their minds? And that is going to help the defendants exactly how?
All you do by taking some votes from Lewis Cheek is diminish the chance of Lewis Cheek winning the election.
This is the reality.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandt,

Yesterday the Monks campaign, of which you are a Senior Advisor, was notified of the results of a poll that indicated 54% of Durham voters do not support DA Nifong. Of the 54% who do not intend to vote for the DA, an anemic 2% have decided to support Steve Monks while 24% remain undecided.

Assuming that as a Senior Campaign advisor, you are aware of these results, your continued efforts to campaign against Lewis Cheek and to cast petty aspersions on his supporters, reveals the disingenious nature of your arguments and your intentions. You are correct, it's not "rocket science". Simple math will do. With support of 2% of the voters, Steve Monks has no possiblity of success yet you continue to pretend that he does. 2%, by the way, is not a "vast majority" as you indicate above.

Please tell us again how you have the best interests of the falsely accused in mind and how your campaign and your words here do anything but work for DA Nifong and against those who desire to see him removed from office.

Rather than the party to most restore fairness to the defendants, as you suggest, Mr. Monks, and yourself as his mouthpiece, are the parties to most threaten the restoration of that fairness as you continue to work to influence the 24% undecided voters. Regardless of what your intentions may have been when you began your work, your efforts will, and already have, ultimately serve Nifong.

2%, sir, is 2% and no amount of distortion, or spin, will change that fact nor will it change the reality that your efforts, and words spoken here, in anger, have harmed the efforts to those who work diligently to effectuate Nifong's defeat. Knowing that you issue these attacks on the Cheek campaign, and those who support it, while possessing the knowledge that you only have one more day to hide behind the illusion that Monks has a chance to defeat Nifong is truly disappointing to witness.

It also gives a good indication that, despite the very tangible gauge you have by which to measure the impossibility of success, your intention remains to work towards the retention of DA Nifong. I do not know you, yet am embarrassed for you by knowing that you continue to attempt to chip away at the only real possibility of defeating Nifong in a few short weeks while claiming to desire the opposite.

http://www.wral.com/politics/10149893/detail.html?rss=ral&psp=news

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandt. You don't need to know rocket science. Try simple math.
Only 2% of Durham county voters plant to vote for Mr. Monks.
Mr. Brandt, this is the real truth.
And yet you continue to bash the campaign of Lewis Cheek. How can you? You had your chance to convince Durham county voters to vote for Mr. Monks. Just as you were told time and time again, it is not possible for Mr. Monks to win this election. Yet you persist, and worse, you persist with bashing of Mr. Cheek campaign. Why?

Anonymous said...

“Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie?”

Doesn't "Defeating Nifong" and "Real Victory" actually require defeating Nifong? Cliff may be the only one to have misunderstood his title.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 1:45 AM. Your attempts to put down KC Johnson are lame. The Department of Justice and the FBI Center for Public Integrity are investigating the Duke Case, Duke University, the DA's Office and the Durham Police Department. They just are not going to go on national television prior to completing an investigation. Unlike Nifong and the DPD. Yes, Constitutial rights have been violated, Codes of ethics and office of a public official have been broken and criminal behavior on the part of Nifong and the DPD have been documented. You can't destroy evidence, you can't lie under oath to a judge, you can't break into a students room and send a phoney email from his computer, you can't racially incite the public as a public official. The list goes on and on. Dooms day is near for Nifungus, the DPD and Duke 88

Anonymous said...

1:08 PM, you say that the Department of Justice and the FBI Center For Public Integrity are investigating Duke University. These kinds of investigations are confidential. So how would you know that they are investigating Duke? Did they ask you to help them out with the investigation?

Cliff said...

5:28 AM

I’m certainly aware of the poll you’re referring to and it’s findings are certainly of interest to me. Of course, neither of us yet knows who the Undecideds are undecided between. Right now, in order for Cheek to win in the context of these numbers, 79.2% of the Undecideds would have to vote for Cheek. Will they? I don’t know and look forward to seeing more polling in the days ahead.

I would point out that the polling concluded on the day my editorial in the Chronicle ("Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie?") appeared. As far as I know, this piece represents the first time anyone has publicly raised the question of who makes a better replacement for Nifong—Steve Monks, whose interests are not in competition with a full, fair and dispassionate review of the lacrosse case, OR, via a Cheek victory, an unknown person appointed by the Governor, whose interests likely will be in such competition by virtue of the Governor’s patronage—and then answered it with a view to the hard, cold realities of just how it is that political power is exercised and maintained.

I do not know whether my argument will make a difference here, but I do know that it has been seen by the Chronicle’s readership and by the now hundreds of persons at Duke and throughout the Durham community, many of them opinion leaders, to whom it has been be emailed. In it's email form, by the way, it's addressed to “Our Friends with Whom We Stand United in Opposition to Mike Nifong”, which is entirely sincere. Outside the blogosphere, it has apparently been well understood and received, eliciting next to no objection (one brief rant and two respectful "I disagree"s from Duke students) and a good deal of commendation from among those to whom it’s been sent. And it continues to be sent.

By the way, I know that as you point out “2%...is not a ‘vast majority’ as [I] indicate above”. The “vast majority” I was referring to is relative to the “number of folks in Durham County” and my supposition was that they’re “smart enough to figure… out” “what a Cheek victory really means”. Now looking at the poll numbers, it looks to me like only 28% have NOT figured out, in one way or another, what Cheek victory really means, and in fairness to us both, I think we can assume that all of them are capable of figuring this out if they’ll abandon for just a moment their doctrinaire embrace of the Cheek candidacy. When you’ve got a principal of Duke Students for an Ethical Durham ("DSED") and, at least several days ago, an avid Cheek supporter (as it would appear all DSED principals are), stating that it’s his/her assumption that, if Cheek’s elected, the lacrosse case will go to trial, you’ve got to wonder if it isn’t about high time that this abandonment actually occur.

But, my real point—and I’ll admit it was not well expressed—was that we’ve got a very well educated electorate in Durham County and if you put a reasonable proposition before them, as my Chronicle editorial did, they’re certainly capable of understanding it as a compelling alternative to what had until then been the steady, simplistic, and almost stupefying (though, thankfully, not quite) drumbeat of “Cheek’s not Nifong, Vote for Cheek”.

As to my anger, it’s not the anger that you’re referring to, now passed, or any other, that is my motivation here. The anger you refer to came from a remarkable array of insults, direct and oblique, made here and elsewhere, as to my motives, character, courage, and integrity, and from an absolutely bold faced lie told about my Chronicle editorial, as well as gross mischaracterizations of my personal conduct, by whoever’s running LieStarters and trying to fob it off as a source of honest analysis. If, in what I believe was at the time my well justified anger, I offended any who were not deserving of offense, I do sincerely apologize.

My real motivation comes from my belief that Steve Monks represents the best outcome relative to a matter that I, as a Duke alumnus, care deeply about. I am sorry that this belief flies in the face of what has for far too long been, I’m afraid, the unexamined conventional wisdom here and I would urge those who've adopted it to reflect upon the poignant observation, whose attribution at the moment I cannot remember, that "Conventional wisdom is so often wrong precisely because it is conventional".

Just so you know, if Lewis Cheek had actually been willing to serve, I’d have supported him, and Steve Monks would never have entered this race. As it is, that otherwise thoughtful people have stood by for so long and supported a candidate who’s running for an office he doesn’t even want to occupy just truly astounds me, and I am by no means alone. As an aside, it is this astonishing circumstance that to me constitutes the best evidence yet that Durham really is in Wonderland, and I honestly can’t help but wonder just when the Mad Hatter will be dropping in to lend Cheek his personal endorsement.

In conclusion, let me propose this. If all the staggering energy and capital, human and real, that’s being directed, openly and surreptitiously, to advance the candidacy of a candidate who will not serve, were turned around, and directed to getting Cheek to withdraw and support the candidacy of the only anti-Nifong candidate who actually wants the job, Steve Monks, and was then directed to getting Mr. Monks elected, this race would be looking a heck of lot better for all of us in the anti-Nifong camp than it looks in view of yesterday's poll numbers.

In addition to the obvious benefits, it would bring back into the anti-Nifong camp those who have been so disillusioned by Cheek’s decision not to serve after getting himself on the ballot, in some cases with their help, that they’ve given up on this race entirely or, worse yet, have slipped over to Nifong. Remember there are many people here in Durham County who don’t care nearly so much about the lacrosse case as most of us on this blog do, and there are three things that can reasonably be posited about them:

1) they won’t vote for Cheek because they are fed up and have, not surprisingly, no interest in surrendering to a distant Governor, whose interests may not align with their own, a centuries old right to choose their own local officials,

2) they don’t mind voting for Nifong if they have to, and

3) so far, they won’t vote for Monks because they think he can’t win.

All three of these problems are solved by my proposal.

You say it can’t be done? In the age of instant communication it can easily be done and to get the ball rolling all it would take is for any or all of Cheek’s original local backers to hold a press conference and formally withdraw their support for his candidacy and lend it to Steve. Crazy you say? Not so crazy at all when you take a hard look at yesterday's numbers.

Anonymous said...

5:56 PM, in your post, you stated that your daughter was the founder of DSED and that you know for a fact that the decision not to allow DSED to set up their voter registration table at the football game was not made by a low level official at Duke. The implication of your post was that the decision was made by a high level official as part of a campaign by the Duke Administration to prevent students from exercising their right to vote. However, when I asked you to identify the high level official and the reason given for the decision, you did not respond. In the October 27 issue of The Chronicle, John Burness has a guest column which reviews all of the facts relating to this incident and states that the decision not to allow DSED to set up their table was made by a low level official in the athletics department based upon a misunderstanding as to university policy on this issue. Based on the above, we have to decide which of the following explanations is more likely: (1) that the Duke Administration made a high level decision not to allow DSED to set up their voter registration table because they were engaged in an evil conspiracy to prevent the students from exercising their right to vote, though for reasons which are not apparent they nevertheless allowed DSED to conduct voter registration activities all over campus for several weeks and even allowed them to hold a big BBQ / voter registration event on West Campus, or (2) that a low level official in the athletics department made an innocent mistake based on a misunderstanding of university policy. Now which of those explanations do you think is more likely? The conclusion I draw from all of this is that either (1) you are not who you say you are or (2) you do not know what you are talking about or (3) you filed a deliberately misleading post because you wanted to help KC get out of the jam he had gotten himself into on this issue.

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